Azerbaijan’s State Oil Company chairman, Natig Aliev, has ruled out the oil swap proposed by Moscow in the event that the Chechen section of the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline is not repaired in time to handle "early" oil from Azerbaijan. In that case, Moscow is proposing that the early crude oil be shipped from Azerbaijan via the Caspian Sea and up the Volga river by tanker ships of Russia’s LUKoil company, which would then process the oil in its Volgograd refinery. In return, Russia would export an equivalent amount of crude oil from Novorossiisk on behalf of Azerbaijan. (Pipeline News, October 14) The proposed scheme adds to existing doubts over the viability of the pipeline to Novorossiisk for export of Azerbaijani oil.
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